Predicting aspects of pork quality becomes increasingly important from both a nutritional and a technological point of view. Little information is, however, available concerning the quantitative relation between nutrient intake and fatty acid (FA) deposition at the whole-animal level. In this study, eight blocks of five littermate barrows were used in a comparative slaughter trial. At 24 kg body weight (BW), one pig from each litter was slaughtered to determine the initial FA composition. The other littermates were assigned to one of four feeding levels (ranging from 70 % to 100 % of intake ad libitum) and were given a diet containing 0·36 g/kg lipid and 0·22 g/kg FA. The temperature for each block was maintained at either 23 or 30°C. At 65 kg, the pigs were slaughtered and the body lipid and FA composition was determined. Seventy per cent of the digested n-6 FA and 50 % of the n-3 FA were deposited. The average composition of de novo synthesised FA corresponded to 1·7, 30·3, 2·4, 19·7 and 45·9 % for 14: , 16: , 16: 1, 18: and 18: 1 FA, respectively. At 23°C and for feeding ad libitum, 33 % of 16: FA was deposited, 1·7 % shortened to 14: , 63 % elongated to 18: and 2·8 % unsaturated to 16: 1. Twenty-eight per cent of 18: FA was deposited and 72 % unsaturated to 18: 1. At 30°C, 18: FA desaturation was reduced by 3·5 %. Feed intake and temperature independently affected the elongation of 16: FA. A reduction in feed intake increased the elongation rate, whereas the increase in temperature reduced the elongation rate.